Report: Nevada ranch battle spurs radical right

LAS VEGAS  -- An organization that tracks hate groups says the victory a Nevada rancher claimed in a government standoff with armed militiamen has served to embolden right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists across the country.


The Southern Poverty Law Center sounded a warning Thursday in a new report, that bases its findings on online chatter among extreme right-wing groups. The report also states the standoff may have been planned. Cliven Bundy and militia leaders apparently scouted the locations used by the snipers the day they faced off against Bureau of Land Management rangers.

"He cleared up all misconceptions that this was, from the beginning, very much orchestrated, very much planned, and as we saw, it went very much they way they all hoped it would," said Ryan Lenz, senior writer, Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees. In April, the BLM started seizing his cattle. Hundreds of Bundy supporters, including armed militia members and ex-military, came to Bundy's aid.

After spending weeks around the Bundy ranch, the Southern Poverty law center learned "Operation Mutual Aid," a militia group, helped Bundy scout the locations snipers used the day followers ran onto I-15 

"They felt they had stared down the federal government, this tyrannical force and then forced them to leave," Lenz said.

"What we fear however is the fallout from the Bundy standoff will re-energize this movement in such a way that it will once again start to grow, and grow rapidly," said Mark Potok, senior fellow, Southern Poverty Law Center.

Since President Barack Obama was elected, the militia movement has grown from 150 groups in 2008 to more than 1,000 last year.

The report also warns of the potential for more violence like the recent killing of two Las Vegas police officers by a pair of anti-government zealots who spent time at Bundy's ranch. The couple were kicked off Bundy's ranch because of their extreme views.

The BLM has yet to comment on the report.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)










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